Second Pass

A decade ago I wrote the following summary  about how my life turned 360 degrees and brought me back to a dream and an opportunity I passed by.  I do not know what would have happened if I had not let it go by. Would I have done as much as I have in my life?  Would I have been happier?  Would I have appreciated everything the first time, as much as I have on the second pass?  I have no idea and will never be able to know.  I am only happy there are  second passes;  once a chance comes by the second time, grab it and never let go!!

Darkness surrounded me, as I sat at the table, in the old country kitchen and a lonely, innocent despair crept into my heart and mind causing me to recklessly throw the papers on the floor in order to choose a future for myself.  In anguish, I slowly rose from my chair and then knelt first as I sat on the floor.  I was alone, without the help of unbiased council to guide me, yet earlier in the evening I  arranged with my parents to be alone.  I knew they would not meddle, yet I felt I needed to do this alone.  Now my task beckoned me to finish, although I hesitated because I was apprehensive of continuing because of my earlier imprudent act.  Regardless, I knew I must go on and scan the floor with my hand until I found one of the papers.

There in the darkness,  my hand touched a paper that would define the course of my life.

My heart raced in the darkness that was void of any light.  In the stark blackness I could hear the pounding beat of my heart and from the open  window the rustle of leaves on the old  tree branches could be heard as I stood to turn on the light.  In that split second it takes for a light to illuminate, my hand trembled in anticipation of which paper I had  found.  Next, despair filled my heart.  There on the floor lay the paper that would have taken me to a place in my dreams. Instead, the paper in my hand led me to a life others had selfishly hoped I would choose.  I had promised to call as soon as I reached a decision and rose from the floor to go to the telephone. As I did I couldn’t help but turn, then pause and glance at the other career that lay on the floor, miles and miles and miles away!

The future brought with it years to count, to remember, to accept a fate and remind myself I had set the rules and I had chosen the paper, yet Five–Ten–Twenty–Thirty years became an insurmountable distance to ever think of crossing and so hope disintegrated early on.

I  asked how many more years can I count,  often checking if the other road, miles and miles and miles away, was still……each year it became less accessible and the disregarded opportunity became a frightening, ridiculous, prohibitive dream.  It became clear to me that it was my indecisiveness that had been the key that kept me from ever experiencing the difference.

What I didn’t know was that the paths we take and those that we leave behind begin to meander as we grow older.  Much like meandering streams that wind, then make straight cuts through the valley and form oxbow lakes, the passage of time helps us grow and cut out the excuses and makes us less apprehensive so that we begin to hope and anticipate chance, rather than hide from it.   Eventually, there are changes in your life and decades old opportunities return and wait for you again.

And as I reflect upon my life I am delighted that little changes can continually occur.  I have no doubt my life will have major changes  following the day when I will no longer need to be my Mother’s caregiver.  This time will be a very sad time for me and I know I will be unfocused as I choose something to do and somewhere to go.   But, now I know that regardless of my immediate decision, time has a way of correcting and leading me to a satisfying and happier destiny.  This course of action will probably continue within my Crepusculum and I will  be ready to grab for an opportunity on its first or second pass!!

In 1965, at age 17, I abandoned my own wish to go college for an art degree.  Continually, a high school  teacher in high school told me I was better off going to a trade school for cooking.  She often said I was much better suited to a life in the culinary field than in art.

After I chose the admission papers that evening in my parents’ kitchen, I always wished I had been strong enough to tell her what I wanted to do, yet, I was hesitant because she also made sure I understood that I wasn’t smart enough for college.   For the next 31 years i never forgot what she said.  I always felt she had to be right.

Then, one day, M literally took me by the hand  and brought me to ASU to fill out an admissions form. Shortly after we arrived I made a quick about face and ran from the building in fear.  He did not let that effect him and the second time we made it to the admissions office.

After many discussions I was accepted at Arizona State University, School of Art, in 1995.  I was 48 years old.  During the first week of classes I realized how much I had missed all of those years.  After the first round of exams I was surprised to have a 4 pt average.  Seven years later I received my Masters in Fine Art Degree with a solid 4 pt average.   I had just begun to accept that I  was equal to my peers and that I could do anything I wanted and never need to worry  again if I was smart enough!


4 thoughts on “Second Pass

  1. Frank, what a wonderful lesson for us all!! I’m so glad that you had Martin to encourage, and even push, you to pursue the degree that you now hold! I’m proud of you for proving to yourself that you are, indeed, smart.

    But you’re so much more than just smart.

    You’re a passionate artist, a wonderful son, a commited partner and a good friend. You’ve achieved so much in your life!! Your wisdom and knowledge are broad, gained over the years through the many ups and downs that you’ve had.

    If you had been stronger when you were a teenager, your life would have been different, but I’m not sure you would have appreciated your art the way you did at 48.

    Many things in life we wish we would have done differently…I know I do, anyway. But the choices I’ve made have brought me to where I am today. And I am learning to like who I am, and even to love who I am.

    Again, I appreciate you telling your readers about this bit of your life. You are a most interesting friend!


  2. Lynda, thank you for seeing me in such a wonderful light and being such a supportive friend. Your wisdom, though, is especially keen and I agree that I may not have appreciated my type of art when I was so young–or even any art. And I too agree that my career brought be a long, long way and I do have recognition in the catering industry in Chicago. Unlike you though, I still must try to like myself more than I do!l
    Thanks Lynda, you are the greatest!


  3. Oh, Frank
    Did we live in a parallel universe or what!!! I was accepted into our church college, but, because of an argument with my father, I chose to get married and attend nurses training at a local hospital…I thought my calling was to be a teacher. Instead, my parents said that I would always have a job if I was a nurse…they were right…but, I still have a teacher’s heart….and I cannot count how many times that I wished I had that college degree…

    We both seemed to find ourselves in the Valley of Decision at a time when we knew ourselves so little. I am so happy that M took you to full your dream and overcome some well intentioned teacher’s prophectic words…I know that she meant well, but she was misguided to ever cause you to doubt your ability to reach for your stars.

    I also know that your mother has always been in your corner…she is tired now. I remember the day when my husband said that he was too tired to fight any longer…I gave him my blessing to go to God and I believe that God gives us “Dying Grace” when the time for the thirst for life can only be quenched by leaving all this earth offered…

    We will be here for you, Frank…you will not have to walk this Valley alone…wish I could give you a “real” hug, my friend. For now, put your arms around yourself and squeeze…that is me sending you a hug
    …I really miss hugs…


  4. Yes, I am beginning to believe we lived as you suggest. It is comforting to know you are here and with a similar upbringing of most everything!! I am very appreciative of your paragraph about my mother. Once again it is the words you use and the idea you have expressed. Yes she is tired and I do believe that she has been given the “Dying Grace”. I don’t know how long Momma will live, but I am now beginning to see all of this differently than I once did. Yes there should much more to life that the spirit can enjoy…..and I can see how happy she will be to not be bed bound and able to sing and talk as she used to be able.

    Well, you have given me a big hug and I hope that you can feel mine now. You are very special to me and all I wish for you is happiness when ever you can. As for me you once said to keep hope alive and I believe since then I can actually feel little hopes building inside me. Take extra special care of yourself–and one day you can begin getting that college degree at home!


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